The doors to the multipurpose room open early on Sabbath morning, but people are always waiting to get in. They come from several different countries, but they all come to worship and enjoy the family of God. Welcome to the multi-cultural Adventist church in the heart of Seoul, Korea.
Few of the members and visitors are Korean; most come from the Philippines and are in Korea to work and support their families back home.
Vladimir [VLAH-dee-mihr] has worked in Korea for five years. He works to support his parents and save for his future. He had attended a Christian church from his childhood, but he sensed that something was missing in his life. He just wasn’t sure what it was.
“I visited a number of churches and even some non-Christian temples,” Vladimir said. “I knew that somewhere out there was a religion that teaches pure truth, but I hadn’t found it yet.” Vladimir began asking people, “Who is Jesus?” He learned about a lot of false religions and faiths that were built on one idea from the Bible, but Vladimir wanted more.
Then he met a man who invited him to the multicultural Adventist church. Vladimir eagerly agreed to attend. “Once I began coming to the Adventist international group, I knew I had found God’s true church,” Vladimir says, smiling. “I was eager to know more about God.”
“It’s wonderful fellowship for us all, the best fellowship I’ve found anywhere,” he adds. We’re an active congregation and try to let everyone practice being leaders so we’ll grow. We learn how to introduce others to Jesus and live a life that is pleasing to God.”
Vladimir shares what he’s learning with his family in the Philippines. His mother was so impressed by what he’s told her that she attended evangelistic meetings and was baptized as a result of her son’s testimony. “As far as I’m concerned,” Vladimir says, “I’m home!”
Rad is a graduate student in inter-national studies in Seoul. He’s been worshipping with the Adventist international congregation for two years, even though he wasn’t an Adventist. “I love this church!” he says. “We come from all over the world and from so many different professions and lines of work. It doesn’t matter where we’re from or what we do for a living. We just love worshipping God together.”
The international congregation isn’t a typical modern church where people attend a worship service and then go home. “We’re a family,” Rad says. “We love to spend time together during the week. We have spiritual times and social times, just like any family. We have picnics and basketball games as well as Bible studies. We’re just a spiritual family.”
But the international congregation has a growing problem. “Our worship hall seats only about 80, and we’re so crowded that it gets uncomfortable,” Rad says. “We don’t have room to add any more chairs, and some people must stand during the worship service.
The church members have many outreach activities, and they need space to minister to those who want to join them. “We have a building fund, and we dream of having our own church,” one member adds. “It won’t just be a church, but will include a dormitory for migrant workers and those traveling through Korea who need a place to stay for a night or a week or longer. This dormitory is based on a successful outreach ministry in another part of Seoul, the capital city of Korea. Many have found Christ and discovered the Adventist lifestyle while staying in secure and affordable housing. More than a million foreigners live and work or study in Seoul.
“I love this church,” Rad adds. “It’s so open and welcoming. I want to invite my college friends to come and experience worship here. But I hesitate, for they might be intimidated by the crowded conditions. So many people are waiting to hear that God loves them. There’s just no time to lose!”
In spite of the crowded conditions and less-than-ideal worship situation, members of the multicultural Adventist church can’t imagine worshipping anywhere else. “This is where I belong,” Rad says. “We are one in Christ in worship and fellowship, breaking down barriers. We are eager to grow, to help more people experience our wonderful Savior and worship Him together in love.”
Part of the Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help this multicultural church reach more of the 1 million non-Koreans living in one of the largest cities in the world.